Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dr. NOT Oprah

My family doctor sent me to a new therapist, who she thought would be able to help me deal with my grief better than “Oprah.” When the new therapist, Dr. NOT Oprah, called to schedule an appointment with me, she seemed like a very sweet woman. I even got the feeling that she was somewhat spiritual, and was I excited for our first session. She worked from home, located on a nice street near my old High School. Her house was noticeably the most decrepit one on the street and as I pulled into the driveway, I thought I had stepped onto Gray Gardens during the hoarding years. There was garbage everywhere, and unkempt vines growing all over the house. I didn’t want to judge her because of this. Maybe she was too busy curing grief to deal with the state of her home. I opened the side door and was immediately hit by the stench of a mix between smelly feet and curry… not one of my favorite flavors. I sat down in the tiny waiting room and barely had time to read the chart about depression on the wall, when suddenly a girl came out of another room, dashing past me and crying. I didn’t pay much attention to it, thought she was just crying ‘cuz of the smell. I went on reading the depression sign and eagerly waited my turn. Dr. NOT Oprah came out to get me and directed me into her office where I was told to sit in a broken chair instead of on the dusty couch. I had to concentrate on keeping my weight mostly in my feet so I wouldn’t fall through. I felt like it was an exercise in meditation, focusing on the present by not breaking my neck. Dr. NOT Oprah immediately picked up a pad of paper and started writing, before I even spoke a word. Then she asked me some information about my health card, address, phone number etc. Next question was:
“Are you single or married?”
Me: Um, single.
She paused to write down some notes on that. The she looked up and stared at me.
“So why was it so urgent that you come and see me?”
Me: Well it wasn’t urgent, but I’ve had a rough time lately. My dad died…..
 She cut me off. “When did he die?”
Me: In January.
She started counting the months on her fingers, then glanced up and removed her glasses.
“Your dad died in January and you’re STILL upset?”  I was quite taken off guard with that comment and for a minute wasn’t sure if she was serious.
Me: Um, yes I am still upset. It really hasn’t been that long.
She leaned in closer to me. “Why aren’t you married?”
Me: Pardon?
“Why haven’t you found a husband yet?”  I was silent, having flashbacks to that girl who had told me it must be so awful to go through a loss when I don’t have a husband. Dr. NOT Oprah continued. “If you had found a husband in your twenties like you were supposed to and had your own family, you wouldn’t be so upset about your father dying.”
I let out a noise, which was half-laugh and half-gasp.
Me: I think I’d still be upset whether it was four months or four years.
 She ignored my question. “Why aren’t you seeking a husband?” she yelled at me.
I decided to give her what she wanted.
Me: I’m seeking, I’m seeking!
Dr. NOT Oprah continued to glare at me, writing things down in her notes. Finally she changed the subject.
“What do you do for a living?”
Me: I’m a teacher. I work in film on movie sets and teach the young actors that……
“I don’t understand this. What board do you work for?” she was yelling again.
Me: I don’t work for a board. I’m self-employed.
“You don’t work for a board? If you worked for a board you’d be making over sixty thousand a year. How much money do you make?”
Trust me, I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.
Me: I don’t discuss the amount of money I make.
She continued writing down notes on her paper. Probably saying how I’m unwilling to cooperate or something. She looked up and gave me an evil smile.
“What else happened to you that you’re having such a rough time?”
Me: Well I’m still sort of recovering from the trauma from a German Shepherd attacking my dogs and I.
She raised her eyebrow.
“Dog-Sa?” with emphasis on the ‘s’ and then a short vowel after.
Me: Yes. Dog-Sa
“How many do you have?”
Me: 3
At the same time her mouth and pencil both dropped.
“YOU HAVE 3 DOG-SA?” she roared. I was a bit taken aback by this.
Me: Um, yes.
“Why do you have 3? Why do you need so many dogs?”
Me: I’m an animal lover. I like dogs.
“How did that happen? How did you end up with 3?”
I have this thing that when someone is telling me off, who is not living a life that I envy, or is not any sort of role model to me, I can’t take what they say seriously.
I was sitting in a broken chair, in a dirty house with this crazy woman screaming at me. It was the best therapy ever. I had never felt so normal in my life. But boy, if you don’t have a good sense of humor or a thick skin, this woman could really damage you. Who knows what she had said to that girl before me to make her cry. I let out a big sigh and glanced over at my blackberry to check the time.
“I think you’re very needy.”
Me: Excuse me?
She started waving her finger at me.
“Here you are crying over your parents, when you should be out having your own husband and own family.”
Oy, we were back at that again. I laughed out loud this time.
“You’re laughing, but it’s true.” More laughter. I looked around for Ashton Kutcher’s cameras. I was for sure being punk’d. It was definitely a good joke though. Dr. NOT Oprah glanced at her watch.
“Well our time is up. So this is how I conduct my sessions. Would you like to make an appointment for next week?”
Me: Hmmm. Why don’t I think about it. You know take a couple days to digest all the solid advice you gave me.
I got up to leave and she said,
“I think you have a lot of potential, Miss Eisen.” 

On my way home I told my friend from “The Centre,” about my appointment. As appalling as it was, we still laughed our heads off and made many jokes about it. The reactions my friends have had to this story are almost as great as the story itself. Everyone wants me to make a second appointment and I’m sort of considering it to see how much further she’ll take this. She is such a great character for me to write about that I feel I need to pursue it more for my career.
I was out for dinner a few days later with my favorite new friends Julie and Andy. After I told them the story Julie asked me if my dad was a funny guy. Did he have a good sense of humor? I told her he was really funny. He made everyone laugh. She told me that maybe he was somehow sending me to these therapists “Oprah” and Dr. NOT Oprah to help me heal through laughter. It was such a great way to look at it and such a silver lining. I told her I couldn’t have said it better myself! 


  1. What a great story. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Is this a joke? I seriously think you are making this up... this session could not have actually happened! I think I need to make an appointment with this woman to see for myself. Contact info please.

  3. whackadoo lady. Glad you could laugh about it. I think I would have cried..lol

  4. You are a truly talented story teller. To be able to take such a train wreck and turn it into humor is a gift.

  5. OMG..i so needed to read that today..I laughed so hard i had to stop and start again a few times..Thats totally something that would happen to me.. Where in the world do these people come from. I love the "being punk'd" comment. reading it i laughed out loud several times.. I'm thinking if that were me in that "session" i might have laughed at her, however i would of probably been in more of a "are you kidding me?" set of mind and begun secretly searching the room for an emergency escape if need be.. what a great way of looking at it with the connection of your dad and his humour..

  6. And, do you plan to go back/make an appointment? :-) I would be a train wreck, probably. And most certainly not go back there. But well, maybe it wasn't really a silver lining, maybe she isn't really that great, you know. :-/ Best greetings, Tommie